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Informatics in nursing involves the integration of nursing science, information science, and computer science in order to manage and communicate information, data, wisdom, and knowledge in nursing practice. This paper prepares three descriptive reports of informatics-based community health education tools, nursing guidelines, and the role of nursing informatics and healthcare technology in improving quality patient care.

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Introduction

McGonigle and Mastrian (2012) view nursing informatics as a combination of nursing science, information science, and computer science. It is meant to assist in the management and processing of nursing information, data, wisdom and knowledge to support the nursing practice and improve delivery of nursing care. This paper provides the following three descriptive reports on nursing informatics: report of the informatics-based community health education tools applied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), report on National Guidelines Clearinghouse guidelines, and a report on the role of nursing informatics and healthcare technology in improving quality patient care and healthcare safety.

Report on CDC’s Informatics-Based Community Health Education Tools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2013) have in place the Public Health Surveillance and Informatics Program Office (PHSIPO) for the purpose of advancing information science and utilizing digital information technologies to assist in the detection and management of syndromes and diseases in populations and individuals. The informatics-based community health education tools have been vital in providing steady streams of electronic information regarding the health status of every community.

This information is collected, analyzed, and then disseminated or stored in the electronic medical record systems. These systems enable and present automated reminders to clinicians for individually personalized preventive services. They also avail immediate feedback on community disease incidences and activate definite surveillance protocols on demand by public healthcare officials (CDC, 2013). In addition to this, individualized prevention reminders are saved in the electronic medical records system as RSS feeds, podcasts, tag clouds, and health e-cards, and delivered to the general public in downloadable formats.

These e-tools like the podcasts and RSS feeds, together with social media links like Twitter and Facebook have been effective in passing health information to the general public. The only problem is that their application has not easily been integrated into the general functional system that monitors the health of communities and improvement efforts. According to Finkelman and Kenner (2013), health information systems should be able to ‘talk and listen’ in addition to understanding each other. In this respect, the informatics-based community health education tools are required to adhere to both semantic and syntactic standards, which must be implemented in them and tested to ensure the validity of system tools. A major challenge with these education tools is their susceptibility to errors. According to CDC (2013), errors associated to data manipulation are inevitable, though they are minimized through structured data collection.

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Report on “End of Life Care During Last Days and Hours Guideline”

The End of Life Care During Last Days and Hour’s Guideline focuses on life-limiting illnesses with a clinical specialty in cardiology, family practice, internal medicine, and oncology (National Guidelines Clearinghouse, 2013). This guideline has two major objectives. One is providing evidence-based recommendation for registered practical nurses on the best nursing practices for last days and hours of end of life care. Next is to act as a resource to nurses who may not be professionals in the specified practice area (National Guidelines Clearinghouse, 2013). This guideline targets adults who are aged at least18 and have reached the section of illness trajectory involving the last days and hours of life. The practice recommendations of this guideline can be grouped into assessment at the end of life, decision support at the end of life, care and management at the end of life, and organization and policy recommendations.

In the practice recommendations for patient assessment at the end of life, nurses are required to use disease specific indicators, clinical expertise, and validated tools to identify the individuals who are in the last days and hours of life. The nurses are further required to complete a holistic and comprehensive assessment of individuals together with their families using the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association Domains of Care (National Guidelines Clearinghouse, 2013). In decision support at the end of life, the nurses are required to assist individuals together with their families in making informed decisions that are in line with their values, preferences, and beliefs in the last days and hours of life. It is recommended forthe organizations to recognize their nurses’ wellbeing as a vital component of quality end of life care and implement responsive strategies.

The organization and policy strategies are similar to the strategies in my clinical settings and those proposed by Finkelman and Kenner (2013). According to these authors, nursing best practice guidelines can only be efficaciously implemented when there are sufficient resources, planning, administrative and organizational support, and appropriate facilitation.

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Role of Nursing Informatics and Healthcare Technology in improving Quality Patient Care and Healthcare Safety

Nursing informatics has evolved for the past 25 years into a prominent nursing and is considered a critical element to the healthcare system. According to Finkelman and Kenner (2013), nursing informatics and healthcare technology have the main purpose of developing systems that organize, manage, and process health information with an effort of improving the quality of healthcare outcomes. Healthcare outcomes incorporate both patient care and healthcare safety. The significant role that nursing informatics and healthcare technology play in improving patient care has become so essential in 1992. The American Nurses Association (ANA) selected nursing informatics as an approved specialty in nursing (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2012).

Traditionally speaking, nursing had always been reluctant to embrace information technology. However, the desire and need to improve the quality in healthcare forced nursing to begin the challenge of integrating information technologies in patient care. Recent research has shown that patient care and healthcare safety has improved through the adoption of information technology (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2012). For example, more than 80 % of APNs interviewed in this research reported that they were able to perform better on their jobs due to information technology. They also reported that healthcare safety, care-giving and patient care were improved by the use of information technology.

Apart from improved performance, nursing informatics and healthcare technology have a role in counteracting human error through improving human behavior and putting the nurses where they are more effective. In addition, informatics helps in improving such specific aspects of nursing as electronic charting and smart intravenous pumps (Finkelman & Kenner, 2013). Informatics further improves patient care through technologies that assist data-to-information-to-knowledge continuum.

In conclusion, nursing informatics has helped advance the nursing practice. It has also improved the quality and patient care outcomes. Moreover, nursing technology has a great impact on practices of nursing practitioners as it influences their responsibility of improving patient care while at the same time ensures that they adhere to organizations’ scope and standards of practice. These responsibilities and demands are dependent on access to real-time information and resources. Nursing technology and informatics provide this information.

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